My Response To Allah
Allahpundit on Hot Air brings up the topic of free speech, versus showing respect for those who disagree with you. He points out this editorial by Howard Kurtz criticizing the disrespect shown to Senator John McCain during a recent campus graduation appearance. I first became aware of this situation earlier in the week when I read a similar column by Ann Coulter, herself hardly a huge McCain supporter. Anytime you can get Howard Kurtz and Ann Coulter to agree on anything, you have a remarkable story indeed.
Allah also brings up the 9/11 conspiracy theories, and how there is this explosion of outrage, often for outrage’s sake, without taking into consideration what you are attacking. There is also another side to this that I feel is fascinating, the self martyrdom of those involved. People march in the streets, post on internet forums, and celebrities constantly make public appearances, all screaming at the top of their lungs how they don’t have freedom to speak their minds, not realizing the irony. Then they praise themselves for the courage to speak out. Is this really courage though, or just self involvement? As Ann Coulter puts it:
This week the world gasped in awe at the raw heroism of Jean Rohe, the student at the New School who gave a speech attacking the commencement speaker, Republican Sen. John McCain, at the commencement ceremony.
We mostly heard about Rohe's bravery from Rohe — and, really, who is in a better position to judge? As Rohe herself put it: "If there's one thing that I know about myself, it is that I care for people, and in that sense I have a great deal of character."
When I was an undergrad, I had the honor of meeting Elena Bonner, the widow of Soviet Dissident Andrei Sakharov, when she visited my class before a speech she was making. Most Americans nowadays don’t even know who Sakharov was, much less appreciate his significance, but he was a man who gave up everything he had. He was a hero of Soviet science, and an icon for a generation, and he gave that up and was forced into exile because he stood for freedom and human rights. And yet people consider themselves a hero because they interrupt Republicans during a speech, or post an idiotic conspiracy theory on a bulletin board.
In any case, later that night when Elena Bonner spoke, she opened the floor up for questions, most of which were appropriately on the topic of human rights in the former Soviet Union. Then one student got up and began ranting for 5 minutes on the oppression of gays in the United States and how they are not allowed to marry.
Bonner replied simply, “I wish we had your problems.” The student didn’t seem to understand, it wasn’t about him.
But this is getting worse. Before it was just a few self involved activists, now it is becoming an entire generation. Perhaps it is technology? The Internet has done some wonderful things, without it I couldn’t be posting my thoughts for people to read, but in making information so readily available, it has also made it cheap. Before, if you wanted to learn something, you actually had to go out and find a book and read it, or seek out someone who was an expert in the area, and ask them about it. Now you just do a quick google search and the information appears right before you. No need to think about it, or analyze it, the truth is instantly in front of you, it is in a video, it must be true!
What happens then though is you get information without wisdom, it becomes nothing more than a number of unrelated points superficially connected. The movie Loose Change is the perfect example of that. A trio of uneducated 20-somethings make a movie based off of screencaptures of conspiracy websites, and suddenly they are seen as speaking from authority. They never had to do the hard work to turn this information into wisdom, and thus it has no value. If they would have been required to have had more years of experience in order to accomplish this, if they had to exert more effort into compiling what went into their movie, then perhaps they would have paid more attention to the validity of their claims. Instead, they just wallow in their own arrogance, and declare themselves the bearers of the truth.